How England's Wayne Rooney performed better than Messi as a No.10

England striker Wayne Rooney has been the subject of criticism following the Three Lions’ 2-1 defeat to Italy in their opening group game at the World Cup.

The 28-year-old Manchester United forward was criticized for his performance at the previous World Cup in 2010 and this time around in Brazil; once again the No.10 is being scapegoated for the failings of the national team.

However, whilst England’s defeat to Italy last weekend was by no means a display of Wayne Rooney at his best, he did in fact function in his role as playmaker, and pass technician, better than one of the world’s finest.

Lionel Messi had a game of two halves for Argentina against an unlucky Bosnia-Herzegovina side that lost 2-1 despite their efforts. Argentina are ranked as one of the favourites in this tournament and possess an attacking line-up of some of the world’s most dangerous players, most notably their No.10.

Messi scored in the 65th minute with a superb display of individual brilliance but he had been anonymous and, frankly, poor by his own impeccably high standards which sounds familiar to the kind of rhetoric we hear about Rooney when he features for England.

It’s to be expected when a player carries a reputation such as both No.10’s do – they bear the weight of expectation heavier than any other player in the team because their talent is superior to every other player in the team. No other player in the England team can do what Wayne Rooney can do and likewise for Messi in Argentina.

However, the Barcelona star escaped quite the same level of wrath from the press and the fans due to the fact a moment of magic that paid off – had Rooney scored his missed chance that he pulled wide, we would be celebrating one of England’s finest instead of blaming him for the nation’s failings.

Rooney actually performed better than Messi as a No.10 in terms of his passing – Rooney completed 87.88% of his passes to Messi’s 80%. Rooney created three chances for is teammates, one of which assisted a goal to Messi’s four chances created none of which resulted in a goal.

  TeamPosPass completion %AppsMins
Wayne Rooney England FW 87.88 1 90
  TeamPosPass completion %AppsMins
Lionel Messi Argentina FW 80.00 1 90

As a forward, Messi wins via his goal which was indeed majestic but outside that 10 second flash of brilliance, Messi was made to look average by an average Bosnia-Herzegovina side who kept him quiet for the other 92 minutes and 50 seconds of the game.

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